Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Innocent

Last week, I talked about a murder case that I covered as a newspaper reporter (read that post here). A Bay Area man killed five people as part of a deluded scheme to acquire the money he said he needed in order to bring about Christ’s Second Coming. It’s those five people I want to talk about today.
Selina Bishop. In the summer of the year 2000, Selina was a 22-year-old living on her own for the first time in a little studio in the Marin County town of Woodacre, just north of San Francisco. She worked as a waitress at a local cafĂ©, hung out with friends, dated a new guy, and generally enjoyed the unencumbered life of someone that age. She was quiet – people had to strain to hear her voice when she talked. But leaning in to listen was worth it. She had a great sense of humor and a playful, bubbly nature that would light up a room. She also had a passionate loyalty to those she loved, especially her best friend – her mother. 
Selina Bishop in 1999.
Jenny and Selina in the late 1970s.
Jenny Villarin. Selina’s mother raised her only child alone. In a sometimes bumpy life, the two of them were the only constant. And they adored each other. Jenny had moved up to Marin County when she was with Selina’s father. She stayed after the relationship ended in the early 1980s, but kept in close contact with her sprawling family. She was the sister who made sure to call on birthdays, who always sent cards, who brought a smile to everyone’s face. In the summer of 2000, the 45-year-old was tending bar at the Paper Mill Saloon in the Marin County hamlet of Forest Knolls. One night in early August, a dear friend stopped by the bar to see her.
Jenny Villarin
Jim Gamble. A big bear of a man with a kind smile, the 54-year-old Jim had known Jenny for decades. He’d even journeyed back to Pennsylvania at one point to help her move back to California after her relationship with a man there failed. He was semi-retired by then after years in the computer industry. He now dabbled in mining, owning claims in Nevada and Oregon with his brother. He traveled a lot to see friends and family, including his two sons. When his mother divorced a husband who had never liked him, Jim showed up on her doorstep with a bottle of champagne. “Now I can visit my mother whenever I want to.” Eventually, he moved in with her to help out, and because he enjoyed her. They loved to take cruises together, where Jim loved spinning ladies around the dance floor and learned to scuba dive during off-shore excursions. The pair had another cruise planned for that fall. 
Jim Gamble.
Annette and Ivan Stineman. Annette Callender met Ivan Stineman in 1945, when she was a USO hostess and he was a U.S. Coast Guard quartermaster second-class. They were married three months later and settled in Southern California. They had two daughters they adored and the home was always a happy one. Ivan always kept everyone smiling with silly jokes and his penchant for bringing home all manner of finds from garage sales. Annette kept everything running smoothly, but never could resist taking in animals. Throughout the years, the family had dogs, cats, turtles, guinea pigs, a chipmunk, and even a spider monkey. They both worked for Standard Oil and when the company consolidated operations in the Bay Area in the early 1970s, they decided to take the transfer. They moved to Concord, a quiet suburb in the East Bay. Ivan took an early retirement a few years later and became a real estate agent. Annette stayed with the company until the mid-1980s before she retired as well. And that was when they really started to have fun. They took cruises all over the world, had time-shares in several different places and a motor home to get them anywhere else they felt like traveling. Ivan was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, and Annette started caring for his health just as she had everything else so efficiently for so many years. She was in fine health and after he had a gimpy knee replaced in 1998, he felt better than he had in years. There was more of the world to see, and they were ready to do it.
Annette and Ivan Stineman in 1945.

The Stinemans on a trip to Hawaii in 1997.
On July 30, 2000, Annette and Ivan Stineman answered the door to find their former stock broker standing on their porch. Friendly and gracious as always, they invited him and his brother inside. They were then held at gunpoint, kidnapped from their own home, and forced to write checks from their retirement accounts. They were then drugged and killed. The checks turned out to be uncashable.
On August 3, 2000, Selina Bishop was invited to her boyfriend’s home in Concord. He had started dating her a few months earlier with the sole intention of using her to unwittingly launder the money he planned to steal from the Stinemans. She knew nothing about his true aims and happily agreed to visit his home, which he’d never before invited her to visit. Once she was there, the two brothers – panicking because the funds weren’t accessible – killed her to cover their tracks.
Before dawn the next day, Selina’s “boyfriend” decided he had one more loose end to tie up. He’d avoided all of Selina’s friends while they were dating, but had accidently met her mother. He knew she was staying at Selina’s little studio. He got the gun, drove across a bridge from the East Bay to Marin County, burst into the apartment and shot Jenny and Jim to death.
All five people continue to be missed and mourned by those whose lives they touched. 
A Marin County memorial, including the carved bear, to Selina, Jenny, Jim, Annette and Ivan.


pattinase (abbott) said...

What a great service you do by doing this. These people deserve to be remembered-not the person who killed them. Thanks.

Claire Booth said...

Thanks, Pattinase!